I’m sure all teachers and parents would agree that this term has been the toughest! I’ve spoken to so many parents this week who have said they’re going to use half term to catch up on school work they’ve not done. My response has been please DON’T use this time to rest. If we’re lucky schools will be able to have ALL children back on the 8th but we don’t know this! As teachers we’re always told how lucky we are to have so much holiday (FYI this isn’t annoying AT ALL) the reality is that as a teacher for every week I have off, other than at Christmas, I work 3/4 days and this is true for a lot of teacher. But we are in the middle of a pandemic and normal rules don’t apply. To get though this we need to rest and this doesn’t mean sleep for a week (although that would be nice). True rest should be restoration in 7 key elements of life; physical, sensory, mental, creative, emotional, social and spiritual (Saundra Dalton-Smith). In order to stay mentally and physically health in these difficult time we need to practice self care and it is NOT selfish to do this. It is however hard many of us aren’t used to putting ourselves first, it’s difficult to find time and in the middle of a pandemic our usual ways to relax aren’t available. My normal favourite self care activities would be a shopping day with my mum, afternoon in the pub with the other half, or a spa treatment none of these are currently possible at the moment but I need a rest we all do! This half term I am giving 1 day to my work, the rest of my week is going to be dedicated to me; I plan to do NOTHING.
My plan to do nothing:
Physically I can’t rest by getting a massage or going to a fitness class (I could do these on line but I personally have a thing about exercising in my living room) what I can and will do is spend time everyday going for a walk, and day dreaming. Yes day dreaming is a thing; it’s actually a form of mindfulness and meditation it causes you to switch of from the present and allows your mind and body to relax, it can be used as a form of visualisation, it improves creativity and boosts your working memory so doesn’t just help you to relax physically but mentally also.
Mentally I’m going to continue with my morning meditations, as I’ve already mentioned I’m going to day dream. I’m also going to read. I miss reading these days I maybe spend the odd 5 minutes on reading on my kindle while I’m waiting to do something else but the only physical books I read are textbooks and children’s stories. I miss the smell and feel of books, I miss curling up with a favourite book (I’m a re-reader) and a pot of tea so everyday I’m going to spend an hour sitting and reading a chapter.
My plan for sensory rest requires the support of my family…not sure they’re 100% on board with this but they don’t want to deal with me in a grump so they’ll indulge me! As a family (my parents currently live with me and my partner) we always sit and watch the teatime quizzes but to gain sensory rest there needs to be no screen time. I am planning a night of hygge I’m going to make a bone marrow pie, open a bottle or red, turn off the telly and play games not just board games but other silliness (see an update on this on my Instagram). This will also mean that I am able to get social rest surrounded by my favourite people. I’m also going to create an at home spa day for me and my mum; home made masks, homemade candles nail varnishes and wine!
Creative rest is possibly the thing I am looking forward to most! I spent a large part of yesterday carefully decluttering my office putting away all my work things and getting out all my hobby and craft items, I have a couple or art pieces I want to finish up and start for my in-laws and my new niece. I never get time to do draw at the minute…that’s wrong I never MAKE the time and creativity is important to me. I’m also going to cook, I love cooking but during term time it is something that is a rushed activity, I want to be able to engage in mindful cooking enjoy the processes of planning the food, selecting the ingredients, take time to enjoy the textures, and smells, then enjoying the sharing what I’ve created with others.
Spiritual rest is different and personal to everyone depending on your beliefs and inclinations. I am going to try and develop my meditation techniques further, I’ll be honest the last few weeks of term have been a struggle with this.
This post compared to some of my others may seem very self focused and lacking in techniques or ideas, it has been a hard blog to write I want to share the importance to everyone of the need to prioritise self care when you have the chance, but everyone has different ideas on what this looks like and some will find it harder than others; particularly parents my advice here is to try to take some time for yourselves while the kids are asleep but also try to include them in some of these activities; family scavenger hunts (instead of the standard walks we’re all getting a little bit bored of), game night, a spa day with homemade masks, baking and cooking.
Look at the attachment below on the 7 key elements and rest deficit and try to plan your own activities to achieve REST: